Joseph Philip Gomer
{ "" }
Share Joseph's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's last surviving Tuskegee Airman, Joseph Philip Gomer of Duluth, has died. He was 93.

His daughter, Phyllis Douglass, of Claremont, Calif., told The Associated Press on Friday that he died of cancer Thursday at the Ecumen Lakeshore nursing home in Duluth.

During World War II, Gomer was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black fighter pilots, who protected U.S. bombers. Blacks were not allowed to become pilots before the war, but the Tuskegee Airmen became one of World War II's most respected fighter units. Their success is credited with helping prompt the integration of the military in 1948.

Gomer flew 68 combat missions in P-47s and P-51s over northern Africa, Italy and Germany. He survived a crash landing and having his plane shot up by a German fighter. But he would later tell how a "short, fat, red-necked captain" ordered him to the back of the line to board a troop ship for home because he was black.

A life-sized bronze statue of a young Gomer in his flight suit stands at the Duluth airport terminal. The Duluth News Tribune reports the statue includes a quote from him:

"We're all Americans. That's why we chose to fight. I'm as American as anybody. My black ancestors were brought over against their will to help build America. My German ancestors came over to build a new life. And my Cherokee ancestors were here to greet all the boats," he once said.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness issued a statement noting that Gomer was able to witness the unveiling of the statue. He called Gomer a national hero who had been an integral part of the community ever since he moved to Duluth.

"The Joe Gomer Monument will forever serve as a reminder of Joe's vast contributions to our community and country," he said.

Another statue of Gomer was unveiled earlier this year in his hometown of Iowa Falls, Iowa.

Gomer stayed in the military after the war and retired from the Air Force as a major in 1964. He then went to work for the U.S. Forest Service in Minnesota as a personnel officer, retiring in 1985 but remaining active into his 90s. He often spoke to schools and other groups about the Tuskegee Airmen and the importance of education.

He once related how a fourth-grader asked him why he fought so hard for a country that treated him so poorly.

"I had to explain to him that this is my country; it's the only country I knew, and I was ready to sacrifice for it," Gomer said.

Gomer was part of a delegation of surviving Tuskegee Airmen invited to attend the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama. President George W. Bush presented the aviators with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.

Douglass said funeral arrangements were pending.

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Published in Reading Eagle on Oct. 11, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
65 entries
November 8, 2016
Valenda Newell
November 12, 2013
Thank-you, Gomer family for all your support during his historical service to our country. Wish we could have met him to thank-him in person. Phyllis Gomer Douglas' Tribute to her father was very special. (Would there be a Dawn in the family that attended Santa Clara Univ. Law School ? {If same family, we had the privilege of meeting Dawn & her parents
in the early 1990's. Just checking in case it is the same family. She is a special young woman. Her father was in the military.)
Deep Regards and Sympathy on Ret. USAF Major Gomer's passing.
Patti & Family
October 24, 2013
chris behring
October 18, 2013
My sincere prayers go out to the entire family.
Margaret Duncan Kelly
October 17, 2013
Mario Carrizales
October 17, 2013
My you fly with the angels know. Rip
jody lopes
October 16, 2013
My condolences to the family rest in peace
rest in peace Jones
October 16, 2013
I am sorry for your loss, but very grateful for Mr. Homer's courage in standing firm in his convictions of being a Tuskeegee airman. I salute him. May our Lord Jesus heal you and be your strength!
Susan Rimcon
October 16, 2013
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Annie Jackson
October 16, 2013
I had the opportunity to meet two Tuskegee Airmen two years ago(John Harrism and Bertran Levy) in the Adirondacks and instantly knew I was in the presence of GREATNESS. If Mr. Gomer had been there then that GREATNESS would have been intensified.Thank GOD for blessing us these wonderful men.
Richard Meskowitz
October 16, 2013
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
October 14, 2013
I am so grateful for your father's determination to serve with his considerable gifts. He made this country a better place by opening the eyes of his countrymen and women.
Gayle MacDonald
October 14, 2013
To the family.
I am sorry for your loss. May the God of comfort provide you with the strength needed to cope with your loss.
October 14, 2013
What a WONDERFUL GENTLEMAN! Thanks for your kindness and sharing "we all are Americans" nobody can say it better. God has welcomed Mr. Joseph Gomer with open arms . . . well done!

Christine Gibson
October 14, 2013
I am so sorry for your loss and may the God of all comfort embrace you and strengthen you during your grieving process. I was particularly moved by Mr. Gomer's life story. The integrity and self-control that the Tuskegee Airmen displayed to obtain the rights Blacks desire was extraordinary and an example for Blacks of all ages. Mr. Gomer viewed mankind as God does and as Peter expresses at Acts 10:34-35: "I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him." When it is all said and done, isn't that what really matters? May the memory of Mr. Joseph Philip Gomer help Blacks everywhere believe in themselves and accomplish their goals through love of God, self-respect, and self-control. May our prayer that "God's kingdom come and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven" become a reality very soon.
The Carters
October 14, 2013
Rest in peace, Major Gomer.
Your friends,
John and Patricia (Chiapusio) Riedl
Duluth, MN
October 14, 2013
R.I.P. I am sorry for your lost but his legend will live on. I am praying for your strength during this difficult time.
October 14, 2013
The great ones are slowly slipping away, God Bless you and Thank you
October 13, 2013
I am sorry for your loss. I hope you can find comfort in the words written at (Jeremiah 29:11,12)
October 13, 2013
Thanks for your service. My father was a bomber flight crew member. He came home in one piece thanks to your squadron and your service.
Jim Giles
October 13, 2013
thank you for all you done
a man of great courage an honor`
Condolences to Joseph P Gomer
an his Family`
God Bless you rip'Spiritually
October 13, 2013
~With Thoughts and Prayers to the Mr. Joseph Philip Gomer Family. God Bless.
October 13, 2013
Another American hero...Rest In Peace... you served you country well...

V.Coates Columbus OH
October 13, 2013
May the God who gives peace be with you all in this time of sorrow. Rom 15:33.
G. Jones
October 13, 2013
May you hold on to the memories of Mr. Joseph Gomer and know that he is resting peacefully. Ecc 9:5,6. My deepest sympathies to you.
October 13, 2013
As a widow of a Vietnam veteran, I would like to thank Mr. Gomer for his service and bravery. May your family find comfort in their memories and peace in knowing that their loved one is resting in the Arms of his Saviour. May Mr. Gomer join his comrades in Eternal Rest.
Joan Miller
October 13, 2013
Salute to you Sir and your fellow Tusgekee Airmen. You overcame many racial barriers by succeeding with your numerous accomplishments that will forever be a part of American history and ever lasting for all races of generations to come. GOD's continued blessings to you and your family.
October 13, 2013
A last salute, Mr Gomer, to you and your fellow Tusgekee Airmen who have proceeded you in death, together again. Words cannot express how proud America is of your great accomplishments, I, as a young Black American, learning about the Airmen throughout my early school years in history classes and finally seeing your story on the big cinema screens, made my heart rejoice. Job well done, take your rest. May GOD continue to bless you and your family...
October 12, 2013
Thank you for service Dear Brother. Now R.I.P. Jackie RET.U S NAVY, Don RET.U S ARMY, J.C.RET.U S ARMY, A.J.RET U.S.A.F. of U.S. VETS, WWII, Vietnam, Desert Storm
Jackie, Don, J.C.
October 12, 2013
(Genesis 15:15) . . .:" you will be buried at a good old age." May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. -
October 12, 2013
Thank you for your service, my fellow veteran. Thank you for being the trailblazer God meant for you to be.

Cancer did not win; God chose to heal you His way by bringing you home. Rest in peace.
Janice Williams
October 12, 2013
Rest in Peace
Scott Chamberland
October 12, 2013
Rest in peace Mr. Gomer. You are truly a hero not only in your service to this country but as a human being. Your gentleness yet fierce bravery defines a great man.

God bless your family.

October 12, 2013
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
October 12, 2013
We are truly sorry for your lost and may God continue to bless each and everyone in your family.

Miller Family Superior, Wisconsin
October 12, 2013
May the eternal light shine upon him.....
James Willner
October 12, 2013
Rest well Sir.
Not only a man of the "Greatest Generation also, one of the Greatest Units known during WWII. Wishing you Blue clear skies and may your next landing be one that brings you joy.
John Crosby (1SG RET)
October 12, 2013
Thank you for your service.May you rest in Heaven.Condolences to the family.
October 12, 2013
May the God and Fathet of peace and all tender mercy grant your family a calm and firm heart giving you everlasting comfort and hope from His glorious promises.
2Thessalonians 2:17
Baltimore MD
October 12, 2013
Thank you, Mr. Gomer.
Rai M
October 12, 2013
May God bless you for all the good things you have done during your life.
October 12, 2013
May God grant you everlasting peace. When you meet my Father, he piloted B17s over Europe from 8th AF and knew you were covering his "6" in 1944...from a Retired SAC USAF Combat Crew member
Bob Vassallo
October 12, 2013
I served my country and I am proud to Joseph Philip Former my brother. I would like to extend my condolences to his family. Be proud of this great man! My prayers are with you.
Paul Gotberg
October 12, 2013
You are an inspiration to all those who haven chosen to serve. Your legacy continues. God bless you and your family.
Proud Marine Mom
October 12, 2013
May the Almighty God grant you peace and comfort during these difficult days. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
October 12, 2013
Hero and great soul. May he be remembered and his and the Tuskegee airmen story live on in history. Thank you for your service.
October 12, 2013
R.I.P. to another of the "Greatest Generation."
Condolences to the family.
Larry Heck, Indianapolis
October 12, 2013
Thank you and rest in peace
October 12, 2013
My sincere condolences to the family of Joseph Philip Gomer who lived a long life of special mightiness from God at Psalms.90:10. May you all find comfort from the God of all comfort.
Betty Fowler
October 12, 2013
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
G. Freeman
October 12, 2013
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always.
Beverly Davis
October 12, 2013
Thank you for your service, Mr. Gomer. Because of you and my father, and others like you, I am free. God bless you; fair winds and following seas from a Navy vet.
October 12, 2013
October 12, 2013
May our God of comfort be with you at this difficult time. He promises that death & pain will be removed. I hope this brings you peace & hope.
October 12, 2013
God bless you and your loved ones ~ Rest in peace.
Jane Dowling
October 12, 2013
My deepest condolences are with you at this time of need. Know that god
feels your pain as well. Go to him in prayer and he will comfort you very
D Jones
October 12, 2013
God Bless This True American Hero.. RIP
Jeanette Hanna
October 12, 2013
so proud and thankful for people like him who were brave and strong never hesitating to serve America. We salute you today!
October 12, 2013
It's a shame that these Americans were treated in the fashion they were. Color has nothing to do with ability, bravery and patriotism. I was just in Tuskegee doing some genealogy and saw the sign at the edge of town commemorating the Tuskegee Airmen. God Bless all of them!
Woody Rush
October 12, 2013
in God's care rest in peace
Dwayne Bickham
October 12, 2013
So many of us owe a lot to men like Mr. Gomer and the example they gave to this Nation. Hate to loss the great ones like him in a time that we need to have more like him.
Jim Hall
October 12, 2013
Our young people need to know that these are the real role models for them to look up too instead of those in the entertainment & sports industry. These were men of honor,dignity,bravery & love of country. A true example of what men should be.
Thank you for all you have done for our country. Your family must be so proud as are we.
A grateful American
October 11, 2013
These men are true heros
joyce williams
October 11, 2013
RIP....thank's to all the tuskeege airmen....we need more proud men like you........
shirley prigmore
October 11, 2013
One to always be remembered for his heroic service and his patriotism.
Betty Rhoda
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences